Explosive stress tied to Burlingame school bomb scare 

click to enlarge Burlingame High School was placed on lockdown Feb. 10 after school officials received an email threat about a bomb on campus. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • Burlingame High School was placed on lockdown Feb. 10 after school officials received an email threat about a bomb on campus.

Fake threats are not the bomb.

A teenager who allegedly framed a Burlingame High School classmate last month by emailing a bomb threat from his account to school administrators — forcing a two-hour lockdown and evacuation of the campus — told investigators she was “just stressed out that day,” prosecutors said Tuesday.

Christine Azzolino, 18, is facing a misdemeanor charge related to the email threat sent the afternoon of Feb. 10, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Azzolino, who is out of custody after posting $50,000 bail, was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in South San Francisco. However, the case was continued to March 28 because her attorney, Jeffrey Jackson, was busy with an unrelated case in Redwood City, Wagstaffe said.

Since the scare, authorities have been mum about the motive behind the email. On Tuesday, Wagstaffe told The San Francisco Examiner what Azzolino allegedly told investigators.

“She kept saying, ‘I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean to threaten anybody, I was just stressed out that day,’” Wagstaffe said.

Some time before 1:20 p.m., police said, Azzolino hopped on to the male student’s computer after he left it momentarily and sent an email from his account to school administrators. The email, written as if it was from the male student, stated he had a gun and a bomb and warned administrators to lock down the school, Wagstaffe said.

After the lockdown, cops detained the male student, but determined he was innocent after “thorough” questioning and searches, Burlingame police said.

Three days later, Azzolino was arrested and charged with sending the email threat.

In a personal account written for the Burlingame Patch.com news site, student Chelsea Surmanek described that afternoon as nerve-wracking and unforgettable.

She said rumors swirled about the severity of the situation while she and other students were corralled in the school library, and that 1,200 kids had to be signed out one by one during the subsequent evacuation.

 “The whole event seemed like a blur,” Surmanek wrote. “I heard about these situations on the news, but I never thought it would happen in Burlingame.”

However, a real threat happened only three years ago in the nearby city of San Mateo.

On Aug. 24, 2009, a crazed teen showed up at Hillsdale High School with a chain saw, a 2-foot sword and 10 pipe bombs strapped to a tactical vest. The teen, Alexander Youshock, intended to kill as many students and teachers as possible, according to prosecutors, and managed to detonate two bombs before he was tackled by a teacher. No one was injured.

Youshock, later convicted of six felonies, was sent to a state mental hospital on a diagnosis of probable schizophrenia. If released, he will serve at least 24 years in state prison, prosecutors have said.


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